It is truly remarkable what your mind will do when faced with nothing but open ocean, the horizon line, and your own thoughts. I was told on multiple occasions, before departing for St. Croix, that during this trip I would become very comfortable with my own mind. Oh if only I knew how right they would be. During watch, at least once, everyone spends an hour at the bow of the ship on lookout. Everyone has their own ways of passing those hours, staring out at the horizon and we've all discussed our favorite ways to pass the time. Some enjoy a blank mind and treat the time as a form of meditation, some spiral into an existential crisis (not the best way to spend an hour alone), some tell themselves a story or two, and others take the opportunity to put on a concert for no one but the waves and the occasional pod of bioluminescent dolphins.
Megan (me), Paige, and Stephanie on top of the lab enjoying the sunset.
This last option has become a common occurrence for me. I simply cannot function without music and the no music rule on the boat has really thrown me for a loop. At first my mind was blank and every activity felt like it was missing something. But, then after some time songs from deep in my subconscious began to surface. At 2:00 am on dawn watch songs that were popular when I was in elementary school, camp songs, wayyy too much Taylor Swift, and songs like Into The Mystic and Puff the Magic Dragon that hold strong family memories began to echo in my head.
By now they have taken over and I almost always have music in the back of my mind. I am amazed by how much of my mind is made up of music. Not long after music took over my mind, I realized I was not the only one. Some of my shipmates have made up songs, others sing the same line over and over until they can't stand it, and some especially prepared individuals printed out lyrics for the times memory fails. Almost anywhere you go on the ship you can hear the sounds of gentle singing, an instrument playing, or simple humming. Even the ocean joins in with a crashing back up chorus and the wind carrying as whistling tune. I find music everywhere.
I am writing this blog entry much later than I should. It's crazy how 9 pm feels so late to me now. The 72-hour schedule we are all living on has really shattered the concept of time and sleep. Even though I may feel it tomorrow while washing dishes in the galley, waiting until now to start writing is worth it. For the first time in a while there were stars out tonight, and so after a long day full of sail handling, processing, and project work A Watch and some of C Watch planned to go up on deck after dinner to sing along to a ukulele and guitar under the stars. The soft tune of The Night We Met, Rivers and Roads, and many other songs filled the air, mixing with the sounds of waves crashing and the feel of a warm breeze to create one of the most peaceful experiences I've had on the boat so far, all centered around music.
Transitioning to boat living has been difficult, but one thing that keeps us all going is that we are all experiencing the same things. We all live in same, small, overly humid room, eat the same delicious food, go through the same exhausting watch schedule, and all have the same mind of music getting us through our days. Though my own rendition of Take It Easy by the Eagles has its value, it is nothing compared to 20 voices filling the night sky all in harmony. Those are the moments that get me through the hard days and the ones I know I will remember for years to come. Being out in the middle of the Atlantic where so few people will ever be has been a life changing experience and we've only been out here for two weeks. Every night I go to bed thinking wow that was the coolest day ever. I can't wait to see what the rest of this adventure brings.
- Megan O'Brien, A Watch, Colorado College
P.S. To everyone back home: Mom, Dad, and Mary I love and miss you all so much. I hope everything back home is well and I'll be back before we know it! Please give each other hugs for me! Caroline, you'd better be writing down everything that's happening at school! I expect a full report! ? Grandma Pat, we had puffed pastry salmon for snack today and it made me think of you, Grandma B, I will be thinking of you when be pass by the Florida state line, and Grandpa last night I was thinking about all the places you've seen and how I can't wait to share this experience with you on Thanksgiving. Stay safe everyone, I love you! <3
P.P.S. Shout out to Jordan's dad!